Seeing pictures of our favorite houseplants looking gorgeous and lush in magazines or plant websites often leads to one question: how can I get my plant to look like that? Depending on your climate and plant care routines, your plant might not reach an enviable height, but this article will discuss how to reach its full potential.
What You'll Learn Today
- How Big Does a Rattlesnake Plant Get?
- How To Grow a Rattlesnake Plant?
- When To Repot a Rattlesnake Plant?
- How To Repot a Rattlesnake Plant?
- How To Prune a Rattlesnake Plant?
How Big Does a Rattlesnake Plant Get?
Rattlesnake plants grow up to 2 & ½ feet tall in Brazilian rainforests – their native habitat. But, as with all tropical plants, they won’t get as large indoors.
It’s nearly impossible to replicate the warm, humid environment they thrive in naturally, but they can reach heights of 1 & ½ feet inside under the right conditions. To make this happen, you’ll need patience, and to provide optimal amounts of light, soil, humidity, and water.
How To Grow a Rattlesnake Plant?
Rattlesnake plants, which used to be classified as a type of calathea, have been reclassified as Goeppertia. Although it is no longer known as a calathea, it still shares many of the characteristics of other calathea plants.
Although rattlesnake plants, like most calatheas, are known for being a little fussy, they can be low-maintenance and forgiving once you master their care. Here’s what rattlesnake plants need to thrive in your home:
- Water: Rattlesnake plants like to be moist but not soggy. A good rule is to wait until at least the top inch of soil is dry, and then water thoroughly. Distilled water is the best choice for this plant, as the chemicals present in most tap water can damage the foliage.
- Light: Plants with dark foliage, like rattlesnake plants, often require less light. Too much light can stunt growth and fade the beautiful colors on its leaves. Place your plant in indirect light, ensuring that the sun’s rays aren’t directly on it.
- Humidity: Like most calatheas, rattlesnake plants require higher humidity levels than is present in a typical home. They let owners know when they’re craving more humidity by curling leaves to conserve moisture and developing brown crispy leaf edges. If possible, place a humidifier nearby, group it with other tropical plants, or place it in a terrarium.
- Soil: Rattlesnake plants prefer soil that retains some moisture but is well-draining. Any all-purpose potting mix will do, but consider adding materials to help aerate the soil, such as perlite.
- Container type: Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the root ball, and make sure it has adequate drainage. Plastic nursery pots generally offer plenty of drain holes and are relatively flexible, so you can squeeze the sides of the pot to loosen the soil if needed.
- Temperature: Rattlesnake plants have similar temperature requirements to other tropical plants. They are happiest when temperatures remain between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fertilizer: Rattlesnake plants aren’t very particular about their nutrient needs. Any all-purpose fertilizer formulated for houseplants and diluted per the package instructions should be sufficient. You can fertilize your plant every two weeks during periods of active growth.
When To Repot a Rattlesnake Plant?
It’s challenging to know when to repot any plant, especially since many plant owners have different thoughts on the matter. While many care guides recommend repotting every 1-2 years in the spring, the truth is that it depends on the plant.
Repotting can damage the fine root hairs on your plant, which can cause them to struggle. This is usually the cause of what most gardeners refer to as “transplant shock.”
You can limit the amount of stress your rattlesnake plant experiences by only repotting it as needed. Here are some of the signs that your plant needs to be repotted:
It might be time to repot if you notice that your plant hasn’t put out any new leaves in a while or simply isn’t growing like it used to. Plants that are significantly rootbound or have outgrown their container will not grow as much, if at all.
You can consider repotting if you notice roots sticking out of at least one drainage hole. While it’s probably OK to see a hint of root while looking at the bottom of the pot, any more than that could indicate that your plant needs a bigger container.
Many potential issues with rattlesnake plants can result in losing some leaves, including the need to repot. If your plant is shedding leaves, search for other symptoms, and consider when the last time you repotted was. If it’s been at least a year since the previous repot, and you notice roots poking out of the pot or delayed growth, repotting is a logical conclusion.
If you need to water your plant more frequently due to the soil drying out quickly, or if the water seems to flow through the pot immediately without being absorbed, it’s probably a good idea to repot. Much of the pot may be filled with roots, and the soil has degraded, or the roots are tightly bound and cannot absorb the water.
How To Repot a Rattlesnake Plant?
Repotting these beauties may seem intimidating, but as long as you’re gentle and use the proper materials, it will likely be easier than you think.
Here’s how to do it:
Step One: Gather Materials
You will need the following:
- Potting mix
- Small hand shovel
- Pot with drainage
Make sure your shovel and new container are disinfected before using them. Symptoms of disease don’t always show up right away and can spread to other plants via tools or pots that have not been sterilized after using them for another plant.
Step Two: Remove the Plant
Turn the pot on its side and gently tap the sides of the container to loosen the soil. Then slowly turn the pot upside down with one hand while the other hand gently pulls the plant out.
If the plant is in a plastic container, you can gently squeeze the sides of the pot to loosen up the soil before attempting to pull the plant out.
Step Three: Check the Roots
Check for dead or mushy roots and remove them. If the plant is rootbound, gently loosen up the ends of some of the roots so they can grab onto the new soil.
It’s important to disturb the root system as little as possible. If the roots aren’t tightly wound, you won’t need to pull them apart.
Step Four: Prepare the Container
Fill the bottom of the new pot with soil, then set the plant inside to gauge how much more you will need to add. The soil line should be even with the top of the root ball, and should only be about an inch below the rim of the pot.
Tamp the soil down gently as you go, but don’t pack it too tightly or the roots won’t get enough air.
Step Five: Water
Saturate the soil until water runs out of the drainage holes. You may need to add more soil to the container after that, since the water will make the mix settle.
For a helpful visual guide and explanation of repotting houseplants, check out this video:
How To Prune a Rattlesnake Plant?
Rattlesnake plants are low-maintenance when it comes to pruning. The only trimming you should do is when leaves are dead or dying.
It’s normal for rattlesnake plants to lose some foliage over time as the leaves age. Use clean shears to trim the stems as close to the soil line as possible.
It’s important to remember that all plants are different, and you won’t always be able to predict their response to a change in environment. It will also take a while to find out how a new care routine is affecting the plant, so stagger any changes you make by at least a few weeks.
Once you find a good combination, your rattlesnake will reward you with lots of new growth.